Media War: Government Will Not Engage Itself In "Such Disputes", PM Says
PM Viktor Orbán refused to comment on businessman Lajos Simicska’s recent critical remarks, saying that neither he nor the government would engage in “such disputes”. Responding to the businessman’s comments, Antal Rogán, leader of Fidesz’s parliamentary group, said previously that the attacks do not concern freedom of speech but are rather reactions against governmental policies that are financially injurious to certain interest groups.
On Thursday, Simicska told the online version of left-leaning daily Népszava that the government decision to reduce the advertisement tax to 5% but roll it out to further subjects could lead to a “total media war”. The editors in chief of several media associated with Simicska, including right-leaning Magyar Nemzet, mno.hu, HírTV and Lánchíd Radio, announced their resignation on Friday, citing “reasons of conscience”. Lajos Simicska told news portal Index.hu that the announcement had come as a surprise, without any prior consultations with him. Atv.hu quoted him as saying that he thought their move was “treachery” and that he was “stunned”. Simicska also said that he suspected Viktor Orbán being in the background of the developments.
Businessman Lajos Simicska, whose companies have been heavily criticised by the opposition for winning a host of public procurement contracts since Fidesz rose to power in 2010, is a former head of the country’s national tax administration. The opposition has also frequently criticised him for bankrolling Fidesz. However, last Friday Simicska launched several furious, foul-mouthed attacks against Viktor Orbán and his government. Lajos Simicska was named the third most influential person in Hungary by a 2014 survey.